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Which countries have the most generous child-care policies?

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Tiny Luxembourg tops the table. America is among the meanest
Publication Date: 
6 Jul 2021


“WHEN A BABY arrives in the world, there is no reason it should be just the mother who takes care of it,” Emmanuel Macron, the French president, declared last year. “It is important to have greater equality in sharing responsibilities.” From July 1st, paid paternity leave in France will increase from 14 to 28 days. The first week will now be mandatory, with three days funded by the father’s employer and the rest by the state. It is expected to cost taxpayers €500m ($593m) a year.

Mr Macron is seeking to bring France’s child-care provision closer to that offered in European countries such as Norway, Portugal and Sweden. Using data from the OECD, a new report from Unicef, the UN’s children’s fund, reveals which countries give parents most support in looking after their children. It ranks 41 rich countries according to the amount of leave offered to new parents, the ease of access to education in early childhood, the quality of teaching and the affordability of child care. (The OECD’s leave data are from 2018, so do not reflect the new scheme in France.)

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